16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” — Matthew 19:16-26.
— A rich young man asks Jesus what good thing he can do to inherit eternal life. Jesus points him to five of the last six commands (all of which deal with man’s relationship towards man). He does not cite the last commandment about coveting. Jesus summarizes those commandments, that he should love his neighbour as himself. Jesus tells him that if he is able to keep those commandments perfectly, he will have eternal life. (Jesus knows that no-one can keep the commandments perfectly!) The man glibly replies that he has done this all his life, and asks what he still lacks. Jesus then tests him practically about coveting, by telling him to get rid of his possessions and give them away. Does eternal salvation mean more to this man than current gain? Sadly, he goes away sorrowful, and Jesus teaches that it is virtually impossible for a man attached to his riches to have eternal life.
The astounded disciples then ask Jesus as to who could be saved. Jesus says, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Those who want eternal life must obey God’s commands (vss. 16-20).
Jesus’ instruction to the young man to sell all he had (v.21) demonstrated that what he lacked was the attitude that abandons everything (16:24) for the sake of God’s unearned grace (Phil. 3:7–9).
Wealth was considered evidence of God’s approval, and the rich would seem to be the likeliest candidates for the kingdom (vss. 23-26). Jesus turned this idea upside-down, and the result was not lost on the disciples: “Who then can be saved?” (v. 25).
God is able to save!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.